Leadership Team

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Our Leadership Team works with you to create change makers in medical education, clinical medicine, and biomedical research around the globe.

Meet the HSI Leadership Team

UC San Diego Health Sciences International Leadership Team includes experienced health care leaders who are committed to building international relationships that benefit both organizations.

Our leaders are dedicated to improving the quality of health care through excellence in clinical medicine, medical education, and bio-medical research.

UC San Diego Leader

Dr. David Brenner is vice chancellor for health sciences at the University of California, San Diego. In this role, he leads the School of Medicine, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California, San Diego, and UC San Diego Health.

A distinguished physician-scientist and leader in the field of gastroenterological research, Dr. Brenner first joined UC San Diego Health in 1985 as a gastroenterology fellow, later joining the School of Medicine faculty, and serving as a physician at Veterans Affairs (VA) San Diego Healthcare System. He also served as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences and a Clinical Investigator in the VA system. In 1993, Dr. Brenner became professor and chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he continued to earn accolades for his patient care and research.

He was ultimately recruited to UC San Diego Health from Columbia University Medical Center College of Physicians and Surgeons, where from 2003 to 2007 he was Samuel Bard Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine, a member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, a member of the Columbia University Institute of Nutrition, and physician-in-chief of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia.

Dr. Brenner’s professional memberships include the American Society for Clinical Investigation; the Association of American Physicians, for which he is currently President-Elect; the American College of Physicians; the American Gastroenterological Association, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association. He is also on the board of directors of two philanthropic foundations, the AlphaOne Foundation and the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation. Dr. Brenner has also been published numerous times and serves on several editorial boards.

He earned his medical degree from the Yale University School of Medicine. After completing his residency at Yale-New Haven Medical Center, he served as a research associate in the Genetics and Biochemistry Branch of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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DAVID BRENNER, MD

Vice Chancellor, UC San Diego Health Sciences

Dr. Mounir Soliman is assistant vice chancellor and executive director for Health Sciences International at UC San Diego. In his role, he provides the overall leadership and strategic direction for the development of programs for Health Sciences International. He works closely with the senior leadership to align the international service lines with UC San Diego Health’s core mission. He is instrumental in advocating and promoting leading-edge research, advanced education and innovative clinical programs.

Dr. Soliman is well known for his expertise in the development of innovative and economically based health sciences campuses. He has led UC San Diego Health Sciences’ effort in the establishment of strategic alliances with global government and non-government organizations for the development of schools of medicine, schools of pharmacy, university teaching hospitals, biomedical research and research parks. Specifically, Dr. Soliman led the UC San Diego effort for planning and development of the collaborative partnership with Perdana University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for their graduate medical education program, teaching hospital and biomedical research.

Additionally, Dr. Soliman is a clinical professor of psychiatry. His research primarily focuses on treatment-resistant mood disorders and the application of non-psychopharmacological approaches such as Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

Previously, Dr. Soliman served as chief of clinical services for the Department of Psychiatry, where he provided both clinical and administrative leadership for inpatient, outpatient and specialty programs. He worked to improve access to services, safety, quality and patient satisfaction, which led, in part, to the advancement of the Department of Psychiatry internationally.

Dr. Soliman is also an expert in developing elite wellness programs tailored to executives. These programs have been featured in Forbes, the San Diego Business Journal, Men’s Health, Best Life and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Dr. Soliman joined the UC San Diego faculty in 1998 after completing his postgraduate training in the Department of Psychiatry. In addition to his medical degree, he also holds an MBA in health care from the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine.

A member of the UC San Diego Medical Board of Governors and the UC San Diego Professional Standards Committee, he is also a member of the Steering Committee for Global Health Initiatives and serves on the Springboard Panel for the CONNECT Program. Nationally, Dr. Soliman serves as an external reviewer for AAMC Medical Education and a consultant to the Council on International Psychiatry for American Psychiatric Association.

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MOUNIR SOLIMAN, MD, MBA

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director
UC San Diego Health Sciences International
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

Dr. Gary Firestein is director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute, dean and associate vice chancellor of translational medicine and a professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor of medicine in 1988.

Four years later, he was recruited by Gensia, Inc. to be director of immunology. At Gensia, he supervised drug discovery efforts, focusing on the potential role of purines in inflammation. In 1996, he returned to UC San Diego Health where he served as chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology from 1998 to 2010.

Dr. Firestein’s research focuses on the pathogenesis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. He was among the first to map the cytokine profile of rheumatoid arthritis and demonstrate the dominance of macrophage and fibroblast products. These studies played a pivotal role in the development of highly effective anti-TNF and other anti-cytokine therapies for rheumatoid arthritis.

He was chairperson of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Arthritis Advisory Committee and has served on the board of directors of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Research and Education Foundation. He currently is a member of the board of directors of the Veteran’s Medical Research Foundation and serves on the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Advisory Council. He has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Firestein received the Arthritis Foundation’s Jane Wyman Humanitarian Award in 2010 for his contributions to rheumatology. In 2006 and 2009, he received the Arthritis Foundation Lee C. Howley Sr. Prize for Arthritis Research and the American College of Rheumatology Distinguished Investigator Award, respectively. In 1998, he received the Carol-Nachman Prize, an international award given for outstanding contributions to rheumatology research.

The author of more than 300 articles and chapters, Dr. Firestein has edited and written several books. He served as the deputy editor of Arthritis & Rheumatism and is currently the editor-in-chief of Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology.

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GARY FIRESTEIN, MD

Associate Vice Chancellor, Clinical and Translational Research

Christopher J. Kane, MD, is a board-certified urologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating patients with prostate, kidney, bladder and testicular cancer. He has extensive expertise in robotic prostatectomy, open and laparoscopic kidney cancer surgery, and bladder and testes cancer surgery. He also provides care for conditions including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate; elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels; and the presence of blood in urine (hematuria).

Dr. Kane serves as dean of clinical affairs for UC San Diego School of Medicine and chief executive officer for UC San Diego Health Physician Group. In these dual roles, Dr. Kane collaborates with UC San Diego leadership to ensure that UC San Diego Health Physician Group achieves the highest standards of service, access, quality, safety, and patient satisfaction and is integrated to support the unique and growing needs of an expanding academic health system and its growing regional network of providers.

Dr. Kane has authored more than 320 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters with a focus on prostate cancer risk factors and outcomes, prostate cancer surgery and minimally invasive surgery for prostate and kidney cancer. He serves on the editorial boards of several major urology journals as well as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Prostate Cancer Management Guidelines Committee. He co-chaired the National Cancer Institute’s Renal Cell Carcinoma Advisory Task Force from 2012–2016.

Prior to joining UC San Diego Health, Dr. Kane held leadership positions at UC San Francisco and the Naval Medical Center San Diego. He was awarded the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Medal by UC Davis in 2011. In 2014, he was elected to membership in the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons. He is a retired Navy Captain and a decorated veteran of Desert Storm.

Dr. Kane completed his residency at the Naval Medical Center in Oakland, Calif. He received his medical degree from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Kane is board certified in urology.

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CHRISTOPHER KANE, MD

Dean, Clinical Affairs
CEO, UC San Diego Health Physicians

Steven Garfin, MD, is a board-certified and world-renowned orthopedic surgeon specializing in the adult spine. He is consistently elected as a top doctor in San Diego Magazine’s “Physicians of Exceptional Excellence" annual survey performed in collaboration with the San Diego County Medical Society.

Dr. Garfin performs reconstructive spine surgery and provides treatment for people with adult scoliosis, back and neck pain, sciatica, spinal cord injuries, spinal trauma, and other spinal conditions and diseases. He has been involved in the design and assessment of new surgical techniques and instrumentation to treat spinal disorders. These include lumbar and cervical anterior plating systems, kyphoplasty to treat painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures, artificial discs, and biologic alternatives to bone grafts. His work has contributed to the development of current international standards in surgical care of the spine.

Dr. Garfin served as chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery for 21 years. As interim dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Garfin provides oversight for all academic and clinical departments, as well as the research units. In this role, he also oversees the school’s educational mission, provides leadership to all School of Medicine councils, and collaborates with the other deans across UC San Diego.

Dr. Garfin has received multiple awards for research, teaching, and clinical care. He has published more than 300 articles, authored 145 book chapters, and edited 21 books.

He completed his fellowship in disorders of the spine at Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Garfin earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He is board certified in general orthopedics.

Dr. Garfin is a member of most national and international spine societies, including American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Association, Cervical Spine Research Society, North American Spine Society, the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery, and more. For several of these societies he has served as president, board member, or program chairman.

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STEVEN ROBERT GARFIN, MD

Interim Dean, School of Medicine

Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, serves as associate vice chancellor (AVC) for health sciences at UC San Diego and is a tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry. As AVC, he has broad responsibilities in all mission areas, including strategic planning coordination, serving on the UC San Diego Health Executive Governing Board, and providing leadership, coordination, and evaluation to all professional schools, departments and divisions throughout Health Sciences, which includes the School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

His roles include overseeing Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs, Health Sciences International, Human Resources, Compliance, the cross-campus Institute of Public Health and leading the development of a new School of Public Health proposal. He has an oversight role for Health Sciences Education of coordinating education between medical, pharmacy, and public health studies with an emphasis on inter-professional education and has overseen Medical Education (undergraduate, graduate, and continuing medical education). This work includes spearheading initiatives on equity, diversity, and inclusion as well as promoting wellness and engagement.

A distinguished physician-scientist and leader in the field of addictive disorders research, he was recruited to UC San Diego in 2017. For 10 years prior he was chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and president of UMass Memorial Behavioral Health Services. Under his leadership, his department became one of the largest in the country, with over 375 faculty supported by 2,000 staff, and substantial growth in research, clinical services, and education.

Prior to UMass, Dr. Ziedonis had a series of increasingly complex leadership roles at UCLA in the 1980s, Yale University in the 1990s and then nine years at Rutgers / University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He received his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University Medical School and his master's of public health degree from Yale University. As an addiction psychiatrist, he has received the "Best Doctor" award for more than 10 years, with extensive clinical leadership oversight for all levels of behavioral health services.

Dr. Ziedonis is internationally recognized for his research in co-occurring mental illness and addiction, especially tobacco addiction and recovery-oriented interventions. His research has been continuously funded for more than 25 years and received over 110 grants (28 as principal investigator), resulting in over 300 publications and scholarly works. He serves on multiple editorial boards, including The Scientific World Journal and the Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry. He is active in global initiatives, including current research in the UK, China, Latvia, Italy and Denmark.

He was selected as a Council of Dean's Fellow for the Association of American Medical Colleges, advisor to President George W. Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and senior fellow for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He also led and worked on numerous initiatives for the Veterans Administration, the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine.

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DOUGLAS ZIEDONIS, MD, MPH

Associate Vice Chancellor For Health Sciences